I painted a picture I took of a quince as a way to keep creating. We have a huge quince bush in our back yard — it blooms a delicate salmon-pink flower in the spring and then ripens about ten fruit in the summer that are so tart the squirrels won’t eat them. Not much excited me about the subject as I sketched it, or kept me in a sweet flow as I painted. Unlike the seed pods, it wasn’t a tortured process, but it felt like practice. Come to the canvas, mix the colors, listen to music, and fill a brush with paint. Repeat.
But the universe was talking to me, I just wasn’t listening. As I became bored with painting, I grabbed one of my favorite books, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols by J.C. Cooper (Thames and Hudson, 1979), and looked up “quince” on a whim. The quince is an ancient Greek symbol of fertility, the food of brides and sacred to Venus. Like ancient Sarah, I audibly snorked and chuckled when I read this — what a strange sign! I am now fifty, so my baby making days are well behind me. I’m in a phase of my life where I see my children ripening into adulthood.
I put the book down and returned to the canvas — a verdant sea of green. As I played with hues and shapes and shades, I realized that the sign for me was that my life is fertile ground, not my body.
That is the lesson of yoga as well. Asana (poses) is what most people think of as yoga, but it is only one limb of an eight limbed practice. There are also the ethical disciplines of the yamas and niyamas, the appropriate use of the life force in pranayama, and the abiding in silence and cultivating stillness to deepen an awareness of our connection to everything.
The practice of yoga is a tool to help us till the fertile ground of our being. Once we have prepared this ground, we can fully bloom.